In 1991 the Layman Fund, a subsidiary of the Nebraska Foundation, itself independently related to the University of Nebraska system of higher education, made a grant to support a study of human rights in the new Europe, with a focus on developments in East Central Europe. On the basis of that grant, a number of experts, either in internationally recognized human rights or in European affairs, were asked to think about what was happening in Europe in the early I990s and what these events might portend for the future. This book is the result of their collective effort.
Since the collapse of European communism, first in the Soviet "bloc" in 1989 and then in the Soviet Union itself in 1991, events have unfolded at a dizzying pace. It is always difficult to work in an unsettled "laboratory," or, to use a different metaphor, to shoot at a moving target. This problem bedevils much of political science. It is especially difficult when the focus is on European areas formerly under communist rule.
Nevertheless, many important developments in that part of the world deserve analysis, even if that analysis must remain less than final. Moreover, if one waited for full stability in many former communist states, especially those in the Balkans or the southern part of the former Soviet Union, one would wait a very long time indeed before attempting to dissect important developments.